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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Fulfillment (04/06/06)

TITLE: Special Agents
By Pat Guy


Shotguns cocked, ready. Fathers stood in the beds of their trucks surrounding the local high school. They wanted their children out – NOW!

South Florida – the land of rednecks, Mafia, KKK, packing houses, prejudice, and a church on every corner. Throw in the Vietnam War, drugs, free love, and Hard Rock along with a state mandate to force school integration, and the town was ripe for volatility.

Not a place of choice, but of necessity. My father had been sent to Thailand during the War so we had to move off the Air Force Base we called home – a barbed wire community of multicultural neighborhoods and school. Experience and example taught us that ‘prejudice’ was not an option.

The year was 1969 – two weeks before graduation. The volatile consequences of a prejudiced school system fulfilling the Florida State mandate for ‘forced busing’ gripped my high school that day in fear.

Ironically, the combined student bodies as a whole tried to adjust to the transition. But behind the scenes, forces of only a few were secretly planning to disrupt whatever progress could be made – progress long overdue. My high school had become a test case, a trial run to work out the kinks of their plan. And Government Forces had hoped to intercede. They missed it by one day.

Rumors spread slow and steady. Hushed whispers and quick glances heightened suspicions and anxiety.

And the riots began, in the restroom, before my eyes.

A group of smiling, chatty girls walked in with paper grocery bags and began to change their clothing. They were laughing … secretive. I didn’t catch on at first to the ‘why,’ but I knew fear when I saw it in the mirror. The aura encircling my body was blazing with it and I was sure they would notice. I continued to look away. I had already faced the threat of rape and other personal assaults – I wasn’t looking for more.

They paid no attention to me, and left. (Was the aura a shield from God?)

A few boys had already been prepared for months. A slight squeeze exposed the switchblades in the canes they carried.

My first instinct was to get back to class. Guttural, deep roars interrupted the unnatural quiet of the hallway as I began my way. The menacing chorus turned the corner. I froze. A pack of rioting students was a split second away from my face. I ducked into the gym close by and saw one teacher already down – out cold. And he was a big man, a teacher who cared. (How did they not see me? I wondered as I heard the thunder of running feet pass by.)

The person kneeling by him frantically waved me out of there. I couldn’t see the danger, but sensed it. I quickly left the safe haven I thought I had found.

The office! Get to the office!

Another hallway – another way blocked by rioters who battered anyone in their way.

I prayed my way and made it, but all the rooms were over-crowded with terrified, dazed students – black and white. One locked gaze of confused fear leant to a bond of understanding as we took turns using the phone.

Click, clack! Guns and angry fathers surrounded the school.

Weaving through the trucks I asked myself, Is this the way it’ll feel during the end times?

‘Special Government Agents’ were called in to patrol the hallways to protect ALL the students. It took one day to realize it wasn’t enough.

Then the school principal, weak with a looming heart attack, resorted to an unequivocal solution – he called ALL the mothers personally.

Each volunteer mother was assigned an agent and stationed throughout the school grounds. They had the same agent, at the same time, at the same place, everyday; and these trained ‘Special Government Agents’ were the ones depending upon a Mother’s influence. It took two days for calm and order to settle into a routine, and the class of ’69 graduated peacefully – mission accomplished.

No one but the moms and their agents knew of the threats to their own lives.

The rest of the nation heard only of the riots, rapes and violence, and all the sordid issues implicating the reasons why. It only gave more fodder for the illusive force, and its disruptive few to incite more riots in schools throughout the state. The nation never had the chance to hear about the solution.

Maybe it still should.

Moms – God’s Special Agents … unequivocally.

*Author’s note: My mother was one of the many who volunteered to help bring order back to the high school as they faced danger every day. She had her own Government Agent from beginning to end who expressed his unequivocal belief in a Mother’s influence.

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This article has been read 1190 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sharon Singley04/13/06
This is a piece of history that I was too young to really understand. Thank you for bringing it to light. I was compelled to keep reading from the first sentence.
terri tiffany04/13/06
I loved the opening sentence! ALl the way through, your descriptions continually heightened the sense of fear. By the end, I was afraid and thankful for the moms and the job they did. I think this would be a great tribute to your own mom..let her read this! Love true stories that are retold and come to life so well. Didn't even know that happened here in Florida!
Crista Darr04/13/06
Fantastic piece!
Amy Michelle Wiley 04/14/06
Wow. Awesome story, awesome legacy that your mother gave you.
Lynda Lee Schab 04/14/06
750 words is not enough for this story. You've written it well, but there are some parts I'd love to see expanded on. Consider lengthening this account and submitting it to a magazine for publication. This is the kind of stuff people love to read about.
Very well done - the fact that it's true makes it even better.
Blessings, Lynda
Suzanne R04/14/06
Wow ... that was true???! That's amazing! And what an experience to have that aura and the safety and the special protective agents ... phew. I ripped through the article anxious to find out what happened ... and wasn't disappointed. Well done.
Jan Ackerson 04/14/06
This is wonderful writing! Your well-chosen words really built the tension beautifully. I remember my high school going through similar rough times in the late 60s and early 70s, but not quite so tense as this. You really put your readers right there on the scene. Excellent!
Sandra Petersen 04/15/06
What a powerful statement! Fathers with guns couldn't restore peace, Special Government Agents couldn't either. What an influence that a mother can have not only to her own child, but to others as well. I couldn't figure out why the girls in the washroom were changing into different clothes. You kept a suspenseful pace through the first half. Good job!
Shannon Redmon04/15/06
I was hooked from the beginning! I never knew this happened of course I wasn't born till '73. Like the way God protected you. A couple of areas I had to reread to gain clarity of the situtation but overall great read!
Laurie Glass 04/15/06
Wow! Great writing and descriptions here. You grabbed and held my attention. This is also educational to those of us who didn't experience this type of thing. I know it was eye-opening to me.
Linda Germain 04/16/06
I agree with Lynda, this needs expansion and publication! I AM old enough to remember...and even before that, when the "threat" of intergration was merely an idea. We forget, in the scheme of things, what a short time ago that was.
Excellent writing.
Marilyn Schnepp 04/16/06
I wasn't THERE, but I know it to be true...I lived through the Birmingham riot of '63 and then again through the Detroit riot of '67. The writer has done a great job of telling "It Like It Was"...forced fulfillment, and yes, a part of history. Well written. Nice job.
Venice Kichura04/17/06
Powerful job of telling a real life experience! It held my attention throughout the article.
Teri Wilson04/17/06
This was very good. Congrats!
Beth Muehlhausen04/17/06
Yay, go MOMS!

A gripping story to be sure, with an interesting take on the topic...

I really felt like I was there, especially in the bathroom scene. Good job w/ description and reader involvement!!! :-)
Debbie Sickler04/17/06
I don't know history very well and was naive enough to not realize that Florida went through this during that era. Thanks for sharing this part of your life with us Pat.

In the fifth paragraph, you started one sentence with 'but' and another with 'and'. I think if you left off those words, it reads much stronger. (I also just noticed it in the seventh paragraph too.)

A few spots were a bit confusing to me, like the girls changing clothes and the jump to walking through the trucks after the dads came. But overall, this was a very interesting story and kept me reading.
Jean Elizabeth 04/17/06
You had me riveted the whole way! Great writing - you captured the fear and prejudice of the time. I was in school in Louisiana in the 60's and early 70's and remember the racial divide well. I agree with the others - this would be wonderful expanded into a longer piece!
Garnet Miller 04/18/06
Wow what a harrowing experience! My dad was one of the first students to integrate the high school that I ended up attending. The fear those students must have faced. The price of justice and freedom is often high. Excellent story!
Marie Hearty 04/18/06
Great story. Thanks for bringing me to a time that I was not here to see. Wow.
Jeffrey Snell04/20/06
Wow--excellent telling...thank you for sharing it! Time and media have such a way of distorting the truth...but writers like you help straighten it out!